OCU’S AMERICAN SPIRIT DANCE COMPANY
By Nancy Condit
OCU’s recent Spring Show in the Kirkpatrick Auditorium by the 140 member American Spirit Dance Company was highly enjoyable. The dance programs at the university prepare their students to make a living in dance, so it’s no surprise that the program spanned 80 years of Broadway style dance, from jazz to tap to lyrical to demi-point ballet.
One of the evening’s highlights was “Sing, Sing, Sing,” with choreography after Bob Fosse, reconceived by Tiffany van der Merwe, composed by Louis Prima. To the beat of the tom toms the dancers gathered together and broke out as the brass cut in. Their figures were cat-like hunches with dropped hands, and they leapt with curved bodies.
The timing was great, as were the variety, content and classic moves.
“Why God Why,” choreographed by Jo Rowan, who is also head of the dance department, was a memorable bare foot ballet. Even though it was placed in Viet Nam, with soldiers parted from the women they had come to love, the U.S. seems to be so involved in war that the green shadows of theatrical lighting for jungle were mentally interchangeable with desert, and the dancers were the same age as some of the soldiers in the Middle East. The contemporary feel to the dance was increased by moves like the lift of one soldier’s partner by his knees and hands. There was another good lift as the other soldier lifted his partner up while she extended her legs in a straight up split.
The jazz “Change of Fate,” choreographed by Kari Shaw, music by Kathrin de Boer, Ricky Fabulous, and D. J. Modest, was a constantly moving very rhythmic dance.
The evening led off with the enjoyable tap “Where’s My Gal?,” choreographed by Patricia Oplotnik, music by Handerson, Lewis and Young. “Strut,” with choreography by Brian Marcum, composed by Dioguardia, Lambert and Wells, was a great pulsing music video number in good fun with the women in black dresses, and the master of ceremonies in satin purple pants, lime green shirt, and a top hat with a plume.
“Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” choreographed by Diana Brooks, and composed by Irving Berlin, followed singer Tony Bennett’s lead. The cool tap number effectively used small, rapid steps. The lyrical “Georgia” – “Georgia on My Mind,” choreographed by Kelli Stevens, composed by M. Carmichael and S. Gorreli, was an effective mood dance that drew the audience into it. The dancers wore earth-toned full floor length skirts.
Particularly enjoyable was the humor in two dances. As much as this reviewer dislikes women shown as dingbats, and as far back as it sets the perception of women, the “Bushel and a Peck,” choreographed by Kelli Stevens, composed by F. Loesser, tap number with “Miss Adelaide’s Hot Hot Hot Hot Chickies,” dressed in bright yellow and feather head dresses, was funny. The Busby Berkeley style formations and the kick line was accented with poses of angled knees, and should come in useful in the continual reinvention of past musicals – it’s bread and butter. Truly funny was “Fit as a Fiddle,” choreographed by Patricia Oplotnik, composed by Huffman, Goodfest and Freed. The hot tap number was performed in ‘80’s style workout leotards, including spats on the women, in fluorescent pastels.
The costumes, by Melanie Shelley, were colorful, playful, and varied.